One week, a world of creativity
The Edinburgh Mela Festival, Scotland’s leading celebration of cultural diversity through the arts, will create a carnival of events in Leith to mark its new week-long schedule and Ocean Terminal venue.
Running from August 25 to 31, the Mela Festival this year has a fantastic programme lined up which includes performers travelling from as far afield as Africa, South America and India.
A new outdoor venue beside Ocean Terminal, including a big top, will host a range of activities while the shopping complex itself will accommodate significant events including film screenings, performances, concerts and exhibitions.
The programme, available from today [23 June], includes a number of world, UK and Scottish premieres as well as the return of popular previous events.
This year’s programme also marks the debut of festival director Liam Sinclair. Speaking at the launch, he said:
“The Mela this year offers a world of creative talent. Traditional Indian dance will sit beside tango and flamenco troupes. The big top will host an aerial circus act and the rhythms of India and Pakistan will be joined by those from Japan, Africa and elsewhere. Upswing Aerial have devised a breathtaking display of circus acrobatics and the London Community Gospel Choir will add their infectious singing to the party atmosphere.”
“Our new venue allows us to surround the big top with a rolling programme of music and entertainment. We are welcoming acts associated with the Gypsy Arts Festival who we have been collaborating with for the Festival, and we have recognised Edinburgh’s thriving Polish community with a performance by Gappad – Scotland’s only Polish Theatre ensemble.”
A world premiere – Yatra//Journey – will take place at the weekend. Supported by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund, is it a collaborative performance between The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Adeo Records and Publishing, and Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers. Bringing together musical cultures from Scotland, South Asia and Japan this collaboration is set to create a dynamic fusion of musical traditions.
Speaking at the launch the Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture – Linda Fabiani said:
“Scotland’s biggest intercultural event, the Edinburgh Mela is a wonderful celebration of our nation’s cultural diversity and an integral part of Edinburgh’s world renowned festivals.
“I’m therefore delighted that the Scottish Government is providing £41,492 in Expo funding towards the Mela, which will assist the festival in showcasing the world premiere of the exiting collaborative project Yatra//Journey, which brings together Scottish based artists from three diverse musical cultures to present a truly unforgettable musical experience.
“Featuring a dazzling array of dance, theatre, music, food and performance, Mela 2008 is sure to be a huge success with a host of local and international talent on show for visitors to enjoy.
“The Scottish Government is committed to promoting equality and inclusivity for all and this festival is a great example of people from all backgrounds from around the world coming together to share culture and the arts.”
Kick starting the festivities will be a Mela favourite, Sakhian – ladies only night – on 24 August, which for the first time will include a staged drama called ‘Sapano ki shaadi’ meaning ‘Dream Wedding’, as well as a disco and a performance by Bhangra singer, Des-C.
Weekend evening highlights include the Club Night with live DJs, internationally recognised producer Rishi Rich, along with artists Juggy D and Veronica, and the legendary Bhangra band DCS.
Film and theatre will be two new elements for 2008. A series of films and documentaries will be shown at VUE Cinemas and theatre will include an entertaining yet insightful piece by Theatre Insaan – ‘Jihad: Inner Struggle’ described as “Physically charged, high definition set pieces that play with scale and perspective” by The Herald.
The dance and physical theatre offerings will include London-based Akademi who specialise in innovative, large-scale South Asian dance with the Scottish premiere of ‘Initium’ which uses dance, circus skills and folk theatre influences.
The popular fashion show will return this year promising a catwalk of couture fashion presented in a bollywood style.
The festival concludes with a presentation of Mother India 21 century (MI21): a contemporary live re-scoring of the original Mother India, a tour-de force of Indian cinematic history, led by award winning turntablist DJ Tigerstyle.
Edinburgh Mela Festival chair, Steve Cardownie, said:
“This year’s event marks a step change for the Mela’s entry into Edinburgh’s festival calendar. It is the boldest programme we have ever presented, and has extended across many more cultures than previously. With the support from Forth Ports we also have a first class venue to ensure the Edinburgh Mela reflects a world stage.”
Outdoor activities are focused across the weekend of August 30 and 31. A £2 site pass on Saturday and Sunday will allow unlimited access to the outdoor arenas featuring many of the highlighted artists from 12 noon each day. Entry to the children’s area which includes art and craft activities is included in the site pass and entry for children under 12 to the Mela is free. Tickets for one-off evening events in Ocean Terminal and performances in the Big Top are ticketed with prices ranging from £5-£10.